Social studies organizations names UF alumna ‘Teacher of the Year’

UF College of Education alumna Kassie Erenstoft was named the Dr. Theron Trimble Teacher of the Year among elementary school teachers by the Florida Council for the Social Studies.

The council is a professional organization of social studies educators aimed at promoting social studies instruction in the state.

Erenstoft graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the College of Education. She has been teaching at Spessard L. Holland Elementary School in Bartow, Fla., since 2006. In 2011, Erenstoft was a finalist for Brevard County’s Teacher of the Year award for her engaging and meaningful classroom techniques and her role in connecting teachers with best practices across the district.

Alum Credits COE For Her Accomplishments

Sheri Porubski (M.Ed 2002, English Education) recently accepted a new position as Coordinator of the Teacher Incentive Fund for the Duval County Public School District. Sheri initially worked for Samuel W. Wolfson High School as an English teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, but soon became the first AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) teacher in the city, and eventually held the title of AVID Coordinator.

Sheri has been featured in local television and news articles, including The Florida Times-Union, that covered her program.  She was also featured in a video about the Bill and Melinda Gates EXCELerator Grant that provided the initial funding to bring AVID to Duval County. She has also served as a mentor teacher to close to a dozen pre-interns and interns, as well as novice teachers.

Sheri Porubski credits UF’s College of Education for much of her accomplishments. “I would never have been able to plan and execute professional development events for hundreds of people if I did not have the confidence that I gained through earning my degree from such a fine institution. I was well-prepared to tackle both teaching and leadership roles for the past seven years thanks to the thorough instruction and practical application opportunities the college provided,” she states.

The Teacher Incentive Fund is a multi-million dollar federal grant designed to assist the many high-need schools throughout the city of Jacksonville through individualized professional development, data analysis, and teacher performance pay.

College of Education 2012 Grand Guard Event

We had a successful Grand Guard event this year, celebrating the 50th reunion class of 1962.  The alumni and their guests had the opportunity to have lunch at Norman Hall with Tom Dana, Associate Dean and Theresa Vernetson, Assistant Dean.  The former education students were able to spend time with other classmates and listen to some of the new research and highlights that are taking place with the College of Education today.

When asked: What advice would you give to new or prospective teachers?  The Grand Guard attendees suggested:

1. Take the time to listen to children; sometimes it’s better to throw out the lesson plan and “just listen”. You don’t know what’s going on in their lives outside of school.

2. Don’t listen to what other people say about a student in your class, make your own observation.

3. Take advantage of every opportunity you have while you’re here at the College of Education.

4. Don’t forget your personal exercise…you can work out a million problems while walking around the block.

5. Teach proper keyboarding skills so your students don’t “hunt and peck” when using the computer.

Pictured: Robert and Anne Carlson, Ed and Barbara Johnson, Assistant Dean Theresa Vernetson, Loretta Dow, Associate Dean Tom Dana, Bill and Elaine Pannell, and Sybil Catala.

Class of 1962: Anne Carlson, Barbara Johnson, Loretta Dow, Elaine Pannell, and Sybil Catala.

COE Alum, Dr. Kathryn Kennedy, Accepts New Position with iNACOL

Kathryn Kennedy (Ph.D., 2010) was recently hired as the Knowledge Manager/Researcher for the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL – In this position, she serves the membership of iNACOL and the field of K-12 online and blended learning by keeping a pulse on research needs of the field and collecting and synthesizing data on policy, practice, and trends. She is also responsible for identifying information that needs to be gathered, developing a plan for researching the information, designing survey questions, conducting analysis on responses and putting in place the necessary infrastructure to maintain and disseminate this information. She is managing iNACOL’s K-12 Online and Blended Learning Research Database, where iNACOL will house links to K-12 online research. She will be supporting the Center for Online Learning and Students with Disabilities and reaching out to iNACOL membership and beyond to arrive at a current research agenda for the field. She will be disseminating current research to the field in research-to-practice-focused venues, such as webinars, blogs, tweetchats, and more.

Congratulations to Dr. Kennedy!